Severus looked at the beautiful young man who stood before him and wanted to weep. He was everything he would have wanted in a partner but he was doomed by the curse on his own selfishness to die alone.
"You will be an honored guest," Severus said formally. "But you cannot leave." He was lonely and commanding the young man to stay was the only way he knew.
Harry bowed and looked Severus in the eye as he said, "It is only fair that I serve the punishment my father brought down on our family at my foolish request."
If it is foolish to desire something beautiful, then I am doomed. Severus wisely kept the thought to himself.
Over time, Severus had to admit that Harry was not only beautiful to look at but that he was a kind person. At first clumsy and unskilled, he soon learned how to brew potions with Severus and they spent time in the lab together.
"I've never brewed before," Harry admitted shyly. "Thank you for sharing this with me."
Potion lessons turned into chess in front of the fire and dinners together. Severus dared to hope.
"Why are you sad?" Severus asked one day.
"I miss my friends," Harry admitted. "Not that I am unhappy, but… I wonder what Ron and Hermione are doing and if they are well."
Severus considered. "I can… allow you to visit them." At Harry's happy look he was glad to have offered. "But you must return within one week. If you stay longer, I cannot guarantee what will happen."
"One week!" Harry promised easily.
A week turned into two with no word from Harry. Severus resigned himself to his fate and began the preparations. He closed down the potions lab and sent all but his personal house elf to others. When he died, the wards would come up a final time… and never come down again.
As he lay dying in his bed, Severus felt a lassitude creeping over him. He closed his eyes as sleep overtook him.
"Severus! No…" a voice wailed. Harry! How?
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Harry said frantically. "They wouldn't let me come back… it took me this long to get out of the room they locked me in."
Severus breathed lightly. "I understand… Please, don't worry about me…"
"You git! You didn't tell me," Harry roared. "I wouldn't have left at all if I knew you would come to harm!"
"Not fair to you…" Severus whispered with what energy he had left.
"Severus! You have to stay with me…" Harry threw himself on the bed. "I love you so much… You can't die, now that I've found you." He sobbed on Severus' chest.
Severus felt his heart beat faster and he wound his arms about Harry and held him tightly. When the torrent of tears abated, he nudged Harry and said gently, "I love you, too."
Harry's eyes lit up and he stretched up for a kiss. "Brilliant!"